City Council agrees to cable television franchise with CenturyLink

A year of negotiations leads to two cable TV providers in Bellingham

August 08, 2017 - by Jillian Powers, Mayor's Office

Bellingham City Council has approved a cable television franchise ordinance that will allow CenturyLink to offer cable TV services to the residents of Bellingham alongside Comcast, the current cable provider.

After over a year of negotiations, a presentation of the franchise draft was brought to City Council on July 24 and approved by City Council on Monday, Aug. 7. Benefits of the franchise include additional cable TV choices for some residents within the community. However, CenturyLink will depend on the community’s adoption of the services in order to expand the service area in the future. 

Bellingham’s current cable TV provider and CenturyLink will have a similar agreement consistent in organization and much of the content, including installing infrastructure, financial definitions, payment reporting and a franchise fee. 

Bellingham established a number of community needs and interests in 2011 related to cable TV services during a franchise renewal between the City and Comcast. The resulting agreement was used as a baseline for the agreement with CenturyLink. 

“Soon 6,200 Bellingham addresses will have a choice when it comes to cable television providers. Ultimately the community will determine CenturyLink’s success because their buildout rate is dependent on consumer adoption,” said City Councilmember April Barker. “Hopefully CenturyLink’s customer service and Prism product will rise to Bellingham’s expectations so more residents will have access in the near future.”

As the second cable provider in the community, CenturyLink is not required by the Federal Communications Commission to meet all the same standards as the current cable provider. CenturyLink is not required to provide cable TV services throughout the entire city, for example. 

The franchise agreement carries a 10-year term. However, CenturyLink has the ability to end the agreement in five years if CenturyLink is not providing services to 20 percent of the total subscribers in Bellingham. 

“After spending a year on this franchise agreement I am happy the full council supported it,” said City Councilmember Gene Knutson. “It’s a good agreement for the City and CenturyLink and the Citizens of Bellingham. Choice is a good thing and I hope CenturyLink meets its goals.” 

CenturyLink anticipates being able to provide Prism, its cable TV service to 6,200 addresses within one year of the franchise acceptance.

Media Contact

​Marty Mulholland, IT Services Director
Information Technology Department

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